Schumacher has ‘deteriorated’: Claim
Michael Schumacher is "very altered" six years on from the horror ski accident which left him with a shocking brain injury, claims a leading neurosurgeon.
The Formula One ace nearly died when he fell and cracked his head on a rock while skiing off-piste in the French Alps in December 2013.
Although the Ferrari icon is now out of his long-term coma, surgeon Nicola Acciari claims he will still be changed from the man his millions of fans remember, reports The Sun.
"We must imagine a person very different from the one we remember on the track, with a very altered and deteriorated organic, muscular and skeletal structure," said Dr Acciari.
"All as a result of the brain trauma he suffered," he told Italian newspaper Contro Copertina.
Dr Acciari, who works for a hospital in Bologna, is not reported to have treated the sporting superstar.
Last year it was revealed Schumacher's former boss at Ferrari revealed he is making progress in his recovery and enjoys watching F1 races on TV.
Jean Todt, one of the racing ace's closest mates, provided F1 fans a rare update during an interview with Radio Monte-Carlo (RMC).
Mr Todt told the station that Schumacher has been making good progress, and the pair have watched F1 on TV.
He added: "I'm always careful with such statements, but it's true. I saw the race together with Michael Schumacher at his home in Switzerland."
While declining to provide too much detail on Schumacher's health, out of respect for his family, Mr Todt said: "Michael is in the best hands and is well looked after in his house.
"He does not give up and keeps fighting."
Mr Todt has admitted, though, that his pal's struggle to communicate has saddened him.
He said: "His family is fighting just as much and of course our friendship cannot be the same as it once was.
"Just because there's no longer the same communication as before. He continues to fight. And his family is fighting the same way."
Mr Todt - now the head of motorsport's governing body FIA - regularly visits Schumacher in Switzerland.
He and F1's managing director Ross Brawn, who worked with Schumacher on all seven of his F1 titles, are both very close friends with the star and continue to spend time with him.
Schumacher turned 51 on January 3, but has not been seen in public since a skiing accident in the French Alps six years ago, which left him with severe head injuries and in a medically-induced coma.
He hit the right side of his head on a rock, splitting open his helmet.
Doctors at Grenoble hospital removed blood clots, but others were left untouched because they were too deeply embedded in his brain.
With unsourced stories abounding, updates on his condition went from scarce to non-existent as his family closed ranks around him.
In line with the family's bid to keep the star's condition out of the public arena, Mr Todt said: "It's something very private."
But, he added, Schumacher is being "very well taken care of; he lives with his family in his house between Geneva and Lausanne.
He said: "In the end, only positive thoughts help him. I and his whole family are positive in the mental sense, despite the circumstances."
Mr Todt rarely speaks publicly about Schumacher.
According to the Scuderia Ferrari Club's website, during Schumacher's time working alongside Mr Todt, his former boss once said: "I'm very attached to Michael.
"He's never been an easy person to give his friendship, [but he did] with me, and these things create very strong relationships - friendship and affection for good."
In January last year, Ross Brawn reiterated the need for Schumacher to be shielded from the media spotlight.
Mr Brawn said: "I am constantly in touch with (Schumacher's wife) Corinna and I totally agree with their decision. Michael has always been a very private person."
An official documentary film about the legend, Schumacher, completed with the blessing of his family, was released last year.
It featured rare interviews with his dad Rolf, Corinna, his kids Gina and Mick, and others who have worked with or raced against him during his impressive career.